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Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 05 Jul 2016, 01:19
by Opera Vivrà

Giuseppe Di Stefano sings a hauntingly beautiful "Mi par d'udire ancora", the italian version of "Je crois entendre encore" from Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles.

Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 05 Jul 2016, 20:58
by Darksoprano
Does a prettier rendition exist? :o

Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 06 Jul 2016, 10:51
by TifosoBonisolli
Darksoprano wrote:Does a prettier rendition exist? :o
A "prettier" rendition, that's difficult to answer because "pretty" is entirely a subjective notion. There are, however, many many *better* renditions. Admirable as the beauty of di Stefano's young voice is, this is far indeed from breathing the extremely difficult rhythm of this aria in a stylistically correct manner, and far indeed from faultless vocal technique: almost all vowels too open, and the top notes a problem already at this early age (the attempt at diminuendo at 1:24 to 1:31 is ambitious at best, the one at 2:56 is worse, and he nearly cracks the last acuto no less than three times, at 3:33, 3:35 and 3:37).
There's no shortage of better renditions. And some of them are even really good; in no particular order: André Mallabrera, Costa Milona (yes indeed, believe it or not), Dmitrij Smirnov (the 1921 version in Italian), Tibor Udvardy, Joseph Shlisky and Franco Bonisolli, live in Nuremberg 1983.
As it's often the case with elusive operatic recordings, few of them are available online. Of this particular list, only one is in correct speed on Youtube, the one by Udvardy:

Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 07 Jul 2016, 11:41
by Jimlejim
Tibor Udvardy's rendition is not very good and rather boring. The registers aren't quite even and as he ascends he uses MF so it's easier to go to PP, he doesn't quite full voice, and it's unstable already on the attack, with hiccups on every diminuendo. To my ear, he is aware of them and masks them with pretty sly vowel modification. He has trouble sustaining pitch cleanly on forte. He also throws vowels wide open. Overall the rendition feels "by the numbers" and dry. Okay, Di Stefano's rendition is not without hiccups, but it's much more beautiful and involved singing. What's more, Di Stefano clearly could sing smooth diminuendi. He was in his early 20s here... it's prodigious singing.

Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 07 Jul 2016, 11:44
by Darksoprano
TifosoBonisolli wrote:
Darksoprano wrote:Does a prettier rendition exist? :o
A "prettier" rendition, that's difficult to answer because "pretty" is entirely a subjective notion. There are, however, many many *better* renditions. Admirable as the beauty of di Stefano's young voice is, this is far indeed from breathing the extremely difficult rhythm of this aria in a stylistically correct manner, and far indeed from faultless vocal technique: almost all vowels too open, and the top notes a problem already at this early age (the attempt at diminuendo at 1:24 to 1:31 is ambitious at best, the one at 2:56 is worse, and he nearly cracks the last acuto no less than three times, at 3:33, 3:35 and 3:37).
There's no shortage of better renditions. And some of them are even really good; in no particular order: André Mallabrera, Costa Milona (yes indeed, believe it or not), Dmitrij Smirnov (the 1921 version in Italian), Tibor Udvardy, Joseph Shlisky and Franco Bonisolli, live in Nuremberg 1983.
As it's often the case with elusive operatic recordings, few of them are available online. Of this particular list, only one is in correct speed on Youtube, the one by Udvardy:
I wrote a long reply, but it got lost when my browser crashed. I agree with what Jim says in part, and also don't find the rendition you posted pretty. It's of course subjective. Another one I like:


Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 10 Jul 2016, 21:53
by TifosoBonisolli
Let's set a few things straight. Jim, you can't have listened to the version I've linked to; perhaps you've listened to Udvardy's later live (or TV?) version that's also on Youtube, and rather unsuccessful indeed. Tibor Udvardy was not a very good singer, and that's putting it mildly; he had a voice that most people would perceive as strikingly beautiful, and he was a very intelligent and musical interpreter, but his technique was so shaky that the voice didn't last for more than just a few years (a very similar case to di Stefano, thus!!), and he ended up all too soon singing comprimario parts, operetta and a few major roles in contemporary opera like notably Peter Grimes. BUT he had two stellar moments on record, and this Je crois entendre encore is one of them (the second is the Song of the Indian Guest).
Dry? His lower register is really dry, fault of his imperfect technique; but the rendition is not, nor is it boring or by the numbers. I'm afraid your approach to French music, Jim, is too typical of our times that seem to have lost every feeling for and every connection with that kind of music. What you call "involved" singing in di Stefano's interpretation is exactly the main problem of his recording - it may be involved, but it's totally off-style. This music doesn't call for "involved" singing, it's neither Torna a Surriento nor E lucevan le stelle; it calls for impeccable rhythmic consistency, long breath and extremely precise phrasing - zero tolerance for rubato here. So it's kind of bizarre to criticize Udvardy for doing the music justice; to put it bluntly: if you like what di Stefano does here, fine, but in this case, just don't listen to Les pêcheurs de perles, but to music to which that kind of sloppy (or "involved") phrasing is suitable. Udvardy's phrasing is really picture-perfect here. And it's equally bizarre to *criticize* that he's not using full voice - that's exactly what the music requires, once again. Using full voice in this aria is plain horribly tasteless, period. And above all, you're not even right: Udvardy DOES start the two acuti at 1:15 and 2:33 at full voice, only to smooth them instantly into diminuendo, no hiccups at all.
Actually, there are nowhere any hiccups faintly comparable with di Stefano's; what is true is that the final phrase with the high C sounds relatively strained and uneasy (I find it not too disturbing in this recording, but nonetheless, that's precisely how Udvardy destroyed his voice in no time). And it's also true that Udvardy's forte was never his (beautiful) piano's equal, you're certainly right about that; but once more: where's the problem in a piece that requires piano singing from the first to the last note? Btw, Gedda is even more consistent in avoiding each and any forte in this aria, and it's certainly true for him, as well, that avoiding forte benefits him (in his early years, when this recording was made, his forte had a very unpleasant tendency to flutter) - but that doesn't mean (neither in Gedda's nor in Udvardy's case) that they "mask" anything, it simply means that they've recorded an aria that suited their abilities and didn't force them to going beyond them.
That said, the Gedda recording is beautiful and excellent; Gedda is a singer that I usually have a hard time listening to, but this recording is really well-done, for exactly the same reasons as Udvardy's: consistent piano singing, rhythmic precision and steady phrasing without any "involved" rubato.

Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 10 Jul 2016, 22:14
by TifosoBonisolli
Ah, by the way, I forgot one more remarkable version of this difficult aria - and it IS on Youtube: hear Tengiz Zaalishvili in Russian.

Admittedly, there is a bit too much forte singing here (really not overloud, though), and I wish he had sung more diminuendi like on the beautiful final note; but his breath and rhythmic precision are absolutely exceptional, as is the beauty with which he produces his voice.

Re: Giuseppe Di Stefano

Posted: 14 Jul 2016, 00:58
by Geoff
I'm impressed - very much. Forget the video which is clearly dubbed. While he may lack the subleties which we can associate with other tenors of note, here is a tenor of merit and I'm pleased that you posted this. All thanks to youtube, thank you.
Regards,
Geoff.